Braves win streak at 7, Medlen wins 1st start since ‘10

Almost two years since he last started a major league game, Kris Medlen pitched like he wanted to stay there.

The Braves right-hander allowed one run and four hits in five innings of a 7-1, rain-delayed win against the Miami Marlins on Tuesday night at Turner Field, extending Atlanta’s winning streak to seven games. The Braves have won 14 of the past 15 games started by Medlen, who had 14 starts in 2010.

“He gave us everything we wanted him to,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Medlen, who made his first start of the season after 38 relief appearances. “He was trying to talk us into going one more inning, but no chance. He goes back (to start) on Sunday, and we’ll add another 20-25 pitches to his outing and hopefully get us deeper in the ballgame.”

Juan Francisco had three hits and Brian McCann and Tyler Pastornicky homered for the Braves, who got their 17th win in 22 games to move to a season-high 15 over .500.

But the story Tuesday was Medlen, who will stay in the starting rotation at least until Tommy Hanson  returns from a stint on the 15-day disabled list for a strained back.

“Compared to 2010 when I got the opportunity to start, I felt so much more calm this time — I think it helped me a lot,” said Medlen (2-1), who threw 40 strikes in 57 pitches and had one walk and three strikeouts. “I just felt like I was in control. I was trying to pound the zone. I knew I had a pitch count but I wasn’t too worried about it. I just knew I had to be efficient and I was throwing strikes and Mac called a great game.”

Medlen got a win and the Braves pulled within 2-1/2 games of National League East leader Washington, which lost 8-0 to Philadelphia. The Braves finished 18-8 in July and the Nationals 17-9.

“It seems like they don’t lose,” McCann said of the Nationals. “This is the best baseball we’ve played this year, and those guys are playing great too. They seem to win all the time, so to win and them lose, that’s big for us. We’ve just got to keep doing what we’re doing, putting together great at-bats, getting great starting pitching, and our bullpen speaks for itself, in my opinion.”

McCann praised the performance of Medlen, who finally got to start after being sent to the minors earlier in the season to build arm strength for a possible move to the rotation, only to have team officials go in a different direction at that time.

“That guy impresses me all the time,” McCann said. “I worked out with him this offseason. He’s such an athlete. We’d throw the football around and he doesn’t drop a pass. He’s one of those guys that’s an unbelievable athlete; he can do anything.

“They’ve thrown a lot at him this year. They’ve asked him to start, relieve, got to the minor leagues and come back. To keep your mental makeup and your mental toughness, that says a lot about who he is. He’s here to help this team win, and that performance right there – he started right where he left off in 2010. He was one of our best starters in 2010, but he got hurt.”

Medlen didn’t return after a 1-hour, 53-minute rain delay before the sixth inning. He wouldn’t have even if there was no delay, because Gonzalez and pitching coach Roger McDowell had decided five innings would be his limit.

“He was done after five,” Gonzalez said. “It’s not the pitch count, it’s sometimes going up and down, up and down [between innings]. And that last inning, Roger said, ‘I think he’s struggling a little bit now.’ So I think it was a good outing for him to go on to the next one.”

Four relievers worked a scoreless inning apiece including demoted started Jair Jurrjens, whose place Medlen took in the rotation. Jurrjens allowed one hit in the ninth inning in the first relief appearance of his career.

Braves pitchers have a 1.43 ERA during the seven-game winning streak, with 10 earned runs allowed in 63 innings.

“We had five guys with multi-hits today,” Gonzalez said. ” Two nights in a row we’ve had to cover four innings out of the bullpen and we gave up one run yesterday and nothing today…. We swung the bats wel and pitched well, that’s a good combination.”

Francisco had a two-run single in the three-run first inning, and McCann’s home run in the third put the Braves ahead 4-1 and made it the first nine-homer month of his career.

Pastornicky led off the sixth with a homer, the second for the rookie and first as a pinch-hitter.

Medlen’s fifth pitch was a 90-mph fastball that Donnie Murphy hit over the center-field fence for a 1-0 Marlins lead with one out in the first inning. Jose Reyes followed with an infield single, but Medlen induced a double-play grounder from Carlos Lee to end the inning, the last time he would pitch without a lead Tuesday.

“He’s a baseball player and he likes to compete,” Gonzalez said. “He just happens to be a pitcher. I love the mound presence, I love getting the ball, back on the rubber, ‘Here it is,’ throw it. Murphy hits a home run on the [fifth] pitch of the game and that didn’t bother him. Here it is, hit another one. I like that. I like the tempo that he showed on the mound. He’s got an opportunity, with Tommy going on the DL, maybe get two or three starts and see what he can do.”

The Braves, who trailed in only one inning during their three-game weekend sweep against Philadelphia and never in Monday’s 8-2 win against Miami, answered with three runs in the bottom of the first.

After one-out singles by Martin Prado and Jason Heyward, there was a balk by Ricky Nolasco (8-10). McCann drove in the tying run with a groundout, and two walks loaded the bases for Francisco, Chipper Jones’ third-base backup.

Francisco had a two-out, two-run single Monday, and he did it again Tuesday. His single drove in Prado and Heyward for a 3-1 lead.

Francisco went 3-for-3 with a double and an intentional walk, making him 10-for-17 with two homers and eight RBIs in his past eight games.

McCann has nine homers and 21 RBIs in an 18-game tear that began July 5, the day the Braves began their 17-5 stretch that includes 10 wins in 12 home games.

Staked to a 3-1 lead after an inning, Medlen knew what to do with it. The 26-year-old Californian allowed only two runners to advance past first base after the Murphy homer, once due to a Francisco error.

When he moved from the bullpen to the starting rotation during the 2010 season, Medlen went 5-0 with a 3.86 ERA in 14 starts and the Braves won 13. Teammates say they relish playing behind him because he works quickly, throws a lot of strikes and gets plenty of groundballs — things that keep defenders on their toes and wired into a game.

His last start before was Aug. 4, 2010, when he went 4-1/3 innings against the Mets and left with a torn elbow ligament that required “Tommy John” surgery and sidelined him until the final week of the 2011 season.

Before the Braves decided last week to move him to the rotation in place of struggling Jair Jurrjens, Medlen had a 2.48 ERA in 38 relief appearances, including an 0.55 ERA in 16-1/3 innings in July.

When the Braves finalized a trade late Monday for Cubs starting pitcher Paul Maholm, it seemed Medlen would be one-and-done in the starting rotation. But the Braves placed Hanson on the DL Tuesday and announced Medlen would stay in the rotation and start Sunday against Houston.

Braves general manager Frank Wren was asked Tuesday afternoon if Medlen would return to the bullpen after Hanson returned from the DL.

“I would think that would be the assumption today,” Wren said. “But Kris is a talented guy. He can do a lot of things.”

53 comments Add your comment

brimetime

July 31st, 2012
11:52 pm

Brave Decisions

July 31st, 2012
11:55 pm

Team hasn’t missed a beat without Simmons. http://wp.me/2lqJ1

Hugh

July 31st, 2012
11:56 pm

Not even a little rain could cool off the bravos! When Francisco’s going 3-3 and takin’ balls the other way Chipper can take days off whenever he likes! Can’t wait to see Reed in there tomorrow night and move this Chipper on the Twitta streak to 8!

We're Going Streakin'

July 31st, 2012
11:59 pm

I don’t ever remember a season like this will all of the winning (and losing) streaks. Hope the Braves make it to the post-season and get on the right kind of streak in October.

We're Going Streakin'

August 1st, 2012
12:02 am

@Brave Decisions – You are correct. I think it’s a combination of a smart pick-up in Paul Janish, who has played solid defense, good starting pitching, and great production from guys like Chip Jones, Heyward, McCann, Bourne, and Prado. I still hope Simmons gets back, soon. He’s so much fun to watch play.

Peachstealth

August 1st, 2012
12:03 am

Winning is FUN!!!!

Keith

August 1st, 2012
12:03 am

Solid win. Medlen was solid. Huge boost of confidence for him I’m sure.

GO BRAVES! :)

John Leonard

August 1st, 2012
12:05 am

Meds looked bad at the plate,expect better.Oh yea,Braves won another game he started.

jt

August 1st, 2012
12:05 am

hey Jack. go bravs

JC Boscan III

August 1st, 2012
12:05 am

Maybe, after such an excellent start, folks will spell Medlen’s name correctly on these blogs from now on………but, I doubt it. “Medlin” will live on, I suppose. At least, the comments on this blog have it spelled correctly so far…!

HeyJay

August 1st, 2012
12:07 am

Heck Yea Medlin had a helluva night.

High Socks Mondays

August 1st, 2012
12:11 am

“Two-eight-one. Three-three-oh. Eight-zero-zero-fo’. Hit Chip Jones up on the low, ’cause Chip Jones about to blow…”

To anyone who understands this reference and happened to watch Jason Heyward’s post-game interview last night: When Heyward called Chipper “Chip Jones,” it was said in a “Mike Jones” kind of way, right? Anyone?

ohhhhYEAH

August 1st, 2012
12:17 am

Expected better???? From a pitcher who has had maybe 2 at bats all season? How in the world did you expect any better from him at the plate? Makes no sense.

Well Keith, looks like none of the “Medlen is not the answer” people showed up tonight. He sure put on a heck of a show. Even though I know he wont be starting long, at least it helps us to rest easy knowing he’s still solid while Hanson is on the DL.

BravesFaninBama

August 1st, 2012
12:17 am

Medlen gives a REALLY great interview! I really liked his approach and he seemed like he was comfortable to give real answers and not just the basic junk. The kid definitely has confidence! I know everyone is expecting him to go to the bullpen now…but if Medlen had a few more starts under his belt, I seriously think he could be our #1…I know I know…that may sound a bit far fetched and I know it was only the Marlins…but his command is incredible. I still think the first HR was just a bit of nerves wearing off.

The team looked great tonight! Big Juan with a huge game AGAIN! I love that he isn’t just trying to hit homeruns in every at bat. I think that Walker is working MAGIC with this guy.

Another tough night for Uggla….

Quack Quack

August 1st, 2012
12:25 am

Outstanding win for Medlen and entire TEAM…..Look at the 5 inning pitch count.Fantastic!!

Look over your shoulder Gnats…Here we come!!

GO BRAVES!!!

steve

August 1st, 2012
12:32 am

Struggla needs to go to Gwinnett to get things worked out when Simmons returns. Put the new guy Johnson in left and Prado at second. Francisco is looking like he can spell Chipper at third. If Uggla continues with his big uppercuts and ridiculous bat speed he is FINISHED in the bigs. He needs to swing done on the ball or at least level to start making better contact. What the hell are the batting coaches telling him? Is he just too damn stubborn to listen.

Quack Quack

August 1st, 2012
12:33 am

@Another tough night for Uggla…..We’re doing just fine right now with “running him out there”, and just maybe his bat will come alive in time for us to win the WS!! Remember his 30+ game hitting streak last season, although I believe it started sooner than it is now.

BravesFanInNashville

August 1st, 2012
12:51 am

Med’s is nails… great player… Congrats to him and the Braves.. Good to see JJ have a good outing in the 9th. Maybe he can help in the pen. Between Martinez, JJ and Delgado we should have a solution to replace Medlen’s innings in middle relief. Peter Moylan could return and help as a ground ball specialist. I for one don’t believe we’ll have Tommy Hanson back at full strength and Hudson might be able to skip a start to let his leg get a little better. I hope they’ll just let Medlen keep starting and let the rest of the rotation rest as needed.

BravesFanInNashville

August 1st, 2012
1:00 am

A rotation of:

Hudson
Minor
Sheets
Maholm
Medlen

Should be strong and we can get spot starts and relief help from JJ and Hanson.. Sorry to think this but Tommy Hanson might be more hurt than we think. His velocity is drastically down and his location is really spotty right now. I’m just thankful we still have Medlen, Minor, Delgado, Teheran and Gilmartian for the future. It would be great to re-sign Hudson and maybe Sheets if it works out. Sadly it’s probably time to say goodbye to JJ and Tommy this winter.

steve

August 1st, 2012
1:07 am

Medlen needs to be in the rotatation. Delgado can pitch 1 or 2 strong innings in middle relief. Delgado’s speed drops dramatically in innnings 3/4/5.He could be good in middle relief. With Hanson out, it is worth a try.
Looks like Uggla is our next Kawakami. Enough is enough. If he can work it out in Gwinnett he deserves a seond chance. Until then we need to try something different.

the truth...

August 1st, 2012
1:21 am

Let me get this straight…………Hanson has to struggle to get thru 5 and Medlen breezes through the same………his pitch/strike count was off the chart……

…and we’re listening to Fredi talk about him like his days are numbered in the rotation…..

So what’s with the “going with the hot hand” thing?

Oh….guess iceberg Uggla killed that idea already didn’t he?

Ajc

August 1st, 2012
1:37 am

Cnt wait til simmons get bacc.

Grandma Giffin

August 1st, 2012
1:48 am

Hanson, take note. Throw strikes, let your defense play.

marty

August 1st, 2012
4:33 am

yes johnson in left an prado @second an keep medlin starting!!!!!

titlerace

August 1st, 2012
4:46 am

Braves are hot with the win streaks

Hack Wilsun

August 1st, 2012
6:28 am

And Uggla cashes a $500 Thousand Paycheck today just like he will on the 1st and 15th of every Month for the next 3 and a haff Years..Next Contract he Signs with whoever needs to be preformance based only..MLB Teams need to collude and start giving only Incentive Type Contracts..That would make for more exciting Baseball because everybody would be playing their butts off every game on every play..I wished somebody would pay me $2500 for every Batting Average Point.

James Cassara

August 1st, 2012
7:02 am

For all the Fredi Gonzalez bashing that goes on here let’s not forget that the Braves are playing great baseball and are keeping pace with the Nationals. And they are doing it with a modest payroll and a roster that is, by major league standards, only slightly above average. I give Fredi a lot of credit for that.

UPGRAYEDD

August 1st, 2012
7:52 am

Frank Wren has salvaged this season for us. He ain’t batting 1.000, but based on payroll constraints outside his control, he’s pulled off some amazing acquisitions the past couple seasons. I hope we see Dempster in October and flatten his azz. Twice.

Clay

August 1st, 2012
8:15 am

What’s amazing is how close the Braves are to the Nats despite the much vaunted pitching of the Nats.

Clay

August 1st, 2012
8:22 am

@ Hack Wilsun — Uggla is needless to say, a very streaky player. Hopefully he will get hot in time to put the Braves in the postseason.

GaryinBham

August 1st, 2012
8:32 am

Great game all around. I think we’ve been seeing some glimpses of Francisco’s capabilities lately. Don’t know if Greg is having an influence, but he’s hitting really well. Medlin has always been one of my favorites. Glad JJ had a good 9th, too.

Just a curiosity question. Given the importance of the bullpen, is it accurate to still talk about it as a “demotion” or would it make more sense to call it a transfer–putting someone where they might be more effective and needed. I know everyone wants to start, but these days getting from sixth inning to the closer is as crucial as starting the game. I hope Jurrjens can contribute there the rest of the way. We’ll need him.

Mike Geigerman

August 1st, 2012
8:51 am

When is Brandon Beachy going to be ready mid summer 2013 or potentially later that year ?

the truth...

August 1st, 2012
8:59 am

Ah Wednesday morning and I see it didn’t take long to get Medlen our of the rotation again. Not sure what it is but it sux. He has earned it….patience and patience and this is the result?

He is clearly a better pitcher than Hanson and has a better upside especially in his comman. I fear that the result will come in the form of an unhappy camper who’ll ask to be traded in the off season. Hanson will not be resigned when FA comes because he is a Boros client and just not as good as we all hoped he’d be.

Medlen is clearly a better choice in the long run………not to mention now.

Peson

August 1st, 2012
9:11 am

So a couple of days ago Fredi says that Tommy Hanson “needs a break” and yesterday he goes on the 15-day DL for a “strained back?” Sounds a little fishy…

jerry

August 1st, 2012
9:12 am

Uggla was a Braves killer when he was a Marlin and now he is still killing the Braves. Only difference is we see him everyday now.

Morris Code

August 1st, 2012
9:18 am

That Fransisco kid can straight up mash. I can’t wait until he gets a full season under his belt.

Amber Girl

August 1st, 2012
9:25 am

Good morning Mr Morris Code. Just giving you an update. Whiskey is resting comfortably, but no change. I better get off before I get accused of something I am not.

eskippy

August 1st, 2012
9:37 am

I agree but I’m worried about his” just above the belt”.

Morris Code

August 1st, 2012
9:40 am

Thanks for the update Amber. Please let him know that he is in our prayers and thoughts.

phil

August 1st, 2012
9:44 am

We’ve only won 7 straight…

Not good enough.

Morris Code

August 1st, 2012
9:45 am

I think Fransisco will be similar to the Melky situation. He just needed to find a home and a team that supports him. Sometimes a player just needs a new environment to thrive, and I think Fransisco had found that environment. It’s been reported that he’s already dropped 10lbs since he’s been here.

phil

August 1st, 2012
9:48 am

10 pounds, eh? Excellent. Maybe he’ll take this great opportunity seriously going forward.

Keith

August 1st, 2012
10:13 am

Yep, Ohhhyeahhh.

Medlen was definitely headed towards an 8-inning or possibly a CG performance had he been under normal starting circumstances/”stretched out.”

This month of July has been very nice with our starting pitching. Has shown what this offense can do with the support of the starting guys.

Go BRAVES! :)

Keith

August 1st, 2012
10:15 am

I can’t wait to see what happens when Simmons gets back.

Could this be the year that we actually win a playoff series?

could be a fun Fall for Atl…not that I’m holding my breath. lol

P Rose

August 1st, 2012
10:17 am

Don’t let up now, boys. Let’s sweep the Marlins and Astros and take first place this week. Go Braves!

Chipmunk

August 1st, 2012
10:32 am

I say sit Uggla down and put Francisco in. The latter’s hot right now.

Thomas

August 1st, 2012
10:38 am

It is so good to see the Braves winning like this , i just wish there were more people in the seats to see it . Friday and Saturday night had really good crowds.

Kendell Jones

August 1st, 2012
10:51 am

A great game, a\nd a great performance by Medlen. I justr don’t understand what Fredi wants to do with one of the best pitchers on the staff. To put him back in the bullpen would be assinine, and stupid. Fredi still needs to learn how to be a leader. He is not the leader he should be for a team that has the ability to make the playoffs. If they don’t make the playoffs, it will be because of the stupidity of Fredi.

Chris Snow

August 1st, 2012
11:28 am

This Uggla situation is certainly head scratching. You have to think he is IS working on trying to get better. I just don’t understand how professional baseball players can get into these kinda slumps for this long. And make that much $.

Chris Snow

August 1st, 2012
11:33 am

It was also good to see JJ get an inning in the ninth. I was worried Fredi would do the same with him as what Bobby did with KK…leave in the pen and never use him. He’s making way too much $ to not use him.

bravesgrl4life

August 1st, 2012
12:50 pm

Don’t count on Beachy before late, late 2013 season. And even then, they won’t put him out there too much. I imagine start of 2014 is when we’ll get a fully recouperated Brandon B. back.

CLT Brave

August 1st, 2012
1:23 pm

Uggla update: another sombrero last night; O-fer again…Since the All Star break (July 10) our All Star 2B is 7 for 52 with 19 strike-outs which computes to a sizzling .135 avg Year to date he’s checking in at a brisk .208 Perhaps in three for four games when he slips below the Mendosa line management will notice and wonder why he’s not down in Gwinnett….DOB, why isnt anyone asking FG or FW that question…??

htownbravesfan

August 1st, 2012
2:33 pm

About a week or so ago, there were alot of people saying Francisco was fat and the Braves should get rid of him. If you combine he and Chipper’s stats at third, they make for a pretty good ball player. What wonders a seven game winning streak will do with the malcontents that call themselves baseball fans. By the way, Medlen should be in the rotation. I don’t know how anyone, including management, can’t see that. They know it should be done, but sometimes I get the feeling Fredi doesn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. That’s his weakness as a manager, and that’s what keeps Uggla in the lineup everyday. Maybe with Johnson now, he’ll play some left and Prado will play some second from time to time.

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